Happiness versus grief

“Happiness without meaning characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life …” ~ Viktor Frankl

Viktor Frankl
Viktor Frankl

Picking back up on a topic I caught sight of on Dover Beach, my wanting to see Dan’s body at the funeral home dynamically feed new fodder into my life’s gist. Dealing with his suicide morphed the foundations of my happiness. Before that time, I had no loss under my belt cutting so deeply.

Years before his suicide I had worked with a few people who’d attempted to end their lives. One man, whom I’d not seen before being assigned to him, had literally blown his jaw off. Fortunately, I saw him after he was moved out of surgery and onto the psych unit. Finding ways of talking with someone possessing no jaw, let alone a tongue was tasking. Setting aside my own pain in dealing with his psychological and physical trauma I worked a few days a week trying to help the man rediscover ways he already know of communicating but without a mouth.

Our efforts, for a few weeks before his being transferred, forced on us intense and mutual transference of all kinds. Wanting to help this man realize his immediate desire to stay alive while being too confident that in the next year or so he would do this again created deep conflict on its’ own. Standing by Daniel’s casket with my brother nearby in an otherwise empty room all those feelings shared with the man having no jaw and now looking my son’s body began a new stumbling dance within me.

Across those few hours of working with a man unable to wag his tongue back, I found new bedrock within. His actions, useless to him or not, unearthed a true sense of pleasure in giving of myself. Not needing to know that since he had survived this attempt he would never try again, for the moment, I enjoyed knowing him. Unknowingly, this same man set me on the road of dealing with a personal loss.

So far, that bedrock a past client unearth seems uncracked by Dan’s leaving me. Setting firmly under my pain and sorrow, being, at the same time, the foundation those feelings exist on, my happiness tips its’ hat to the man who couldn’t grunt to me.


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